Even though the CBA is redrawn every eight to ten seasons, there are always modifications made year to year that are mutually agreed upon by both owners and players. With player safety as a top priority here are some areas that can be addressed this offseason.
1) 53 man active rosters each week: The inactive roster has to be the most senseless part of the CBA roster rules. Although carried over from the previous CBA it has absolutely no benefit whatsoever. Ask any coach and they will tell you they would love to have those 6 players active each and every week. These inactive players are being paid full salary anyway, practice each week like all the other players, and one is usually a QB.
Having those players available will help coaches increase rotations for tired players, create more depth on special teams and could lead to less injuries. In addition, most teams will dress a third QB who may offer wildcat services, thus, making games more exciting. I have a linebacker that two seasons ago was playing on every down. He was the starting middle LB, and also on kickoff and punt cover. He literally rarely came off the field. I had to call the GM and ask to take him off special teams because I feared he wouldn’t make it through the season as he was also the team’s leading tackler. Had the team had those extra 6 players he most likely wouldn’t have had to play all those downs and increase his chance for injury.
If we want to help player safety this is the easiest way to do it. At minimum we should do this right away for the teams playing on Thursday nights.
2) Overhaul the Injured Reserve list rules: As I mentioned in a previous article, the IR rules need a complete overhaul. Nobody wins when a player is lost for the season on IR when he has a chance to come back before the seasons end. My client TE Tony Moeaki is a prime example this season. He was IR’d for the year with an injury that had him penciled to return about week ten of the regular season. The Chiefs used their short term IR designation on Sanders Commings and placed Tony on permanent IR. The Chiefs also had their other TEs injured forcing them to claim undrafted Sean McGrath off waivers from Seattle, so it’s no secret they could’ve used Moeaki down the stretch. A player busts his ass all year and through camp, gets hurt by no fault of his own, then is told he can’t play the entire season. The owners still have to pay these players so it makes no sense to bury them for the season and take away their right to work.
Injured Reserve rules were made this strict in the past because teams used to hide young players there by having them fake injuries. Times have changed and if a player feels like he can play elsewhere he is not going to fake an injury to be developed for a year. Teams should have the right to designate players for a fixed amount of weeks to their Injured Reserve list. Fans deserve to see the best players play even if it’s just for the last 4 games of the season. Players are so beat up by the midpoint of the season they could use the help with fresh legs coming off IR.
3) Eliminate the 75-player roster cut down: Going into the final pre season game, young players are fighting for their life to make the team. Simultaneously, veterans are ready for a rest during the final week of the last pre season game. As teams get to the back end of camp everybody is important, as is every rep for a young player. Teams have the right to cut players at any time so if they want to purge their roster they are free to do so. On the contrary, some teams may need those young guys to play so they don’t have to play veterans and/or starters against desperate young players who are recklessly going all out.
Furthermore, it would spice up the preseason if the last preseason game were limited to just players with 4 years experience or less. The games can be promoted as a showcase for young QBs and rookies. That’s somewhat what they are anyway, so the league may as well play to that fact and promote the game as a battle of future young stars.
Getting some of these low hanging fruit issues addressed in the near future may even help to make the next CBA negotiation go a little smoother.
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